Faced with declining sales and an apparently stale message, the fast-food giant Arby's on Tuesday selected Fallon to halt its slide.
After a competitive review of advertising agencies that began last October, Arby's selected the Minneapolis agency to create and implement advertising for the chain's television, radio, print and digital platforms.
Arby's CEO Paul Brown called the hiring of Fallon "another significant step in our journey to revitalize the Arby's brand."
"They have a lot of momentum on the product side. Their new brisket sandwich is a game-changer," said John King, Fallon's chief marketing officer. "This is a 50-year-old brand, and we want to get it started for the next 50 years."
Fallon CEO Mike Buchner called the assignment "a tremendous opportunity for us to get Arby's back into the conversation. Arby's has an amazing history, but they aren't top-of-mind right now."
Arby's, known for its carved roast beef and ham sandwiches, has been losing market share and franchisees for the past several years. It ranks 15th in terms of U.S. sales in its fast-food category, according to the trade publication QSR, trailing the likes of McDonald's, Subway, Wendy's and Burger King.
"We see Arby's as hiding in plain sight," said Jeff Kling, Fallon's chief creative officer. "They have 3,400 restaurants nationwide and they need to be more visible."
Arby's most recent advertising campaign features "legendary" former New York police detective Bo Dietl and the tag line "Slicing up freshness."
It's safe to assume that detective Dietl won't be in the picture when the new Fallon advertising begins around May.
Arby's sales in 2012 totaled $2.9 billion, down $100 million from a year earlier and down more than $400 million from the previous three years, according to QSR.
With a media budget estimated at $125 million, Arby's is the most recent and biggest new client landed by Fallon since it lost the Cadillac account last June. Other new business includes Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Herradura Tequila, Loctite Adhesives and VH1.
In a separate development, the Minneapolis agency Campbell Mithun announced Tuesday that it has hired David Carter, a Fallon alumnus, as its chief creative officer. Carter most recently worked at BBDO New York but was involved in some of Fallon's landmark work of a decade ago, including the BMW Films series.